He's going to make her his wife...
Ex-Marine Heath Manning just lost his dad and his family’s ranch, and he’s got the chip on his shoulder to prove it... until a shy, younger woman falls into his arms.
Curvy Adeline Croup just received a surprise inheritance that includes a ranch she has no clue how to run... and a gruff cowboy who makes her blush.
When a marriage of convenience could solve all of their problems, how can Heath resist protecting Addie by making her his wife?
Welcome to Guardian Valley, Montana where protective heroes fall hard for the curvy heroines who steal their hearts!
❤ Age Gap
❤ Plus-Size Heroine
❤ Military Veteran Cowboy
From Montana Protector
“You’re already dark and broody like the Grim Reaper.”
The problem with being a small-town institution is that everybody always knows your business. Like the fact that my dad fucked us over by bankrupting our family's ranch—one that had been part of Guardian Valley’s history since the town’s founding over a century ago.
But instead of extending our family’s legacy, Dad’s inability to adjust to changing times cut it short. The ranch lost money hand over fist until he was forced to sell it himself rather than let the bank auction it off in parcels. He sold our family’s home to some billionaire CEO I'd never heard of and who I now worked for—as an employee rather than the ranch’s owner.
Talk about a hell of a welcome home after a career in the Marines.
“I was sorry to hear about your father, Heath,” Mr. Jones says, invading my dark corner at the community center.
Guardian Valley is hosting its annual Fall Harvest Dance tonight. A popular event that draws everyone within the surrounding area. It’s our last hurrah before the freezing grip of winter grabs us by the balls and makes life miserable.
“Thanks.” One word and I take a sip of my scotch.
I've only been back in town for a month. A month since I found out my dad sold the ranch. Three weeks since he died from a freak car accident. Honestly, I should have skipped out on the dance, using grief as an excuse, but my sister wanted to come. To take comfort with her friends.
I figured it might be a nice break from my days filled with getting the ranch back on its feet after Mr. Billionaire CEO’s influx of cash. A mystery billionaire CEO whom I’ll never meet because the wily Mr. Foster apparently had his own mortality breathing down his neck, passing away two weeks ago.
It hadn’t made sense to me why the old man would buy a ranch when death was knocking on his door.
Until a lawyer appeared with Mr. Foster’s will which stated that a group of strangers would be arriving at the ranch soon, and the first stranger would be the lucky recipient of the Serenity Ranch deed.
My hand tightens on the glass tumbler at the reminder.
Yeah, Dad really fucked us over.
He knew my retirement was near. That I was coming home for good. I don’t know how I could’ve saved the ranch from the mountain of debt it was under, but he should’ve given me a chance to do something before selling off a family legacy that rightfully belonged to me and Samantha.
“Well, I’ll just be on my way then.” Mr. Jones must read the scowl of frustration on my face because he smartly shuffles away with a wave of goodbye.
I'm being an asshole, sequestering myself to this shadowy corner rather than making the rounds through old neighbors and family friends. But there's only so much a man can take of condolences and curiosity.
Everybody’s awfully sorry about the loss of my dad, and everyone is equally interested in the future of the ranch.
Neither of those things are topics I want to delve into with anyone outside of my sister. Hell, even she and I have avoided discussing it too deeply, content with sticking to our roles. Me handling the physical ranch labor needed outside while she manages the main house and the surrounding cabins.
“Scare another one off?” Speaking of the devil, Samantha sidles up beside me to bump my shoulder with hers—a feat considering our height difference.
“I don't know what you're talking about.”
“I'm talking about you dismissing every Guardian Valley citizen who comes to say hello.”
“I warned you I wouldn't be good company tonight, so technically this is your fault if anybody's feathers are ruffled by my attitude.”
Samantha hums in her throat before grabbing my half-empty glass and downing the rest of the amber liquid.
“You don't need any more of this,” she lifts the empty glass, “You're already dark and broody like the Grim Reaper. You don't need to add more alcohol to the mix.”
“You're welcome.” Samantha winks and gives me a three-finger wave before turning on her heel, setting my glass on an empty table, and rejoining the dancers two-stepping at the center of the building.
I don't need to be downing tumblers of whiskey like they’re bottles of water in the middle of the desert, especially since I still have a twenty-minute drive out to the ranch after this. But if I don't have something to do with my hands—like holding a drink—then this urge to leave may finally win. Because standing here alone, besieged by happy people, with nothing to do but watch them flirt and dance isn't my idea of fun.
I'll head outside for some fresh air and text Samantha to see if she needs me to stay to give her a ride home or if one of her friends will do it. Maybe a lungful of brisk Montana air will settle some of the tension I've been carrying.
Not that it's worked in the past month since I stepped onto the tarmac after officially retiring from the Marine Corps. But perhaps, for once, life will be kind to me.
Each gone in quick succession.
Yeah, I doubt life gives a shit about me at all.
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This is book one in the Heirs of Guardian Valley series. I cannot wait for the other books in the series. Heath and Addie were perfect for each other. Such a quick read that gets you involved in the characters making you beg for more.
Usually, with a short story, they feel rushed. While Addie and Heath’s story is shorter than I usually like, it was perfect. I loved how clumsy and sweet Addie was. Heath was a swoon worthy character that I just loved. It’s well written and so great for a quick read. I do wish there was more ranch stuff involved, but I’m hoping I get that from Samantha’s story. Can’t wait!
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